Device Access for Every American Act seeks to bridge the digital divide
Congressman A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04) and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) have introduced the Device Access for Every American Act to ensure more Americans can afford connected devices.
The bicameral legislation would authorize the Federal Communications Commission to establish a program to administer up to $400 vouchers for low-income Americans to purchase laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.
Millions of households across the nation lack access to connected devices. While computer access is nearly ubiquitous amongst high-income households, 40% of low-income adults lack a desktop or laptop computer. Additionally, 4.4 million households with students lack consistent access to a computer.
“Laptops, tablets, and other connected devices are indispensable in our increasingly digital world. Many students’ homework assignments now require laptops, more employers are exploring telework models, and more doctors’ offices are migrating toward telehealth services as the new standard of care,” said Rep. McEachin (VA-04). “The COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated this need and underscored the stark disparities that currently exist in our country. For too many low-income Americans, prohibitive costs pose unnecessary challenges and hardships for them and their families. I am proud to introduce the Device Access for Every American Act, along with my colleague, Senator Warnock, to improve access to these vital devices, connect millions of American households, and help close the digital divide once and for all.”
“It is nearly impossible to get by without access to a laptop or tablet—especially after a year of adjusting to virtual learning, working, and more,” said Sen. Warnock (D-GA). “For that, I am incredibly proud to introduce the Device Access for Every American Act, which ensures that every American – regardless of income or zip code – has the ability to participate and thrive in our increasingly digital economy. This legislation also ensures students stay on track, especially following a year of learning loss, with the necessary devices at their disposal.”
The Device Access for Every American Act would:
- Allocates $2 billion in federal funding for establishment and implementation of the voucher program
- Authorize the FCC to administer up to $400 vouchers for eligible individuals and families to purchase a connected device
- Permit up to two low-income individuals per household to receive a voucher, so families can receive multiple devices
- Direct the FCC to collaborate with connected device retailers, promote the program to eligible Americans, and provide individualized technical assistance to assist in enrollment